Foods That Behave Like Addictive Drugs

colorful_party_gifts_and_junk_food_by_caspercrafts-d4y8kfyA lot of us struggle with cravings, weight issues and late night snack binges. Knowing that certain chemicals in foods, called exorphins, can act as addictive drugs may help in breaking these bad habits.

Exorphins are important, because the makers of processed food, aka “Big Food,” know all about these chemicals. In fact, they engineer ingredients to stimulate our appetites and initiate an addictive cycle of overeating and subsequent disease states. Sound crazy? Well it’s true and pretty evil.

So why should we care? Knowing about these foods can help you control overeating.

Dairy – No food group has been studied more, particularly milk and cheese. Long story short, the desire for cheese can be blocked by the same medicines used to reverse drug overdoses in emergency rooms. So it’s just “kind of” addicting.

We eat five times as much cheese as a few decades ago, often with every meal of the day. “Big Food” knows that dairy drives the desire for more dairy and larger sales. Got milk?

Meat – The blood in meat contains chemicals that also cause subconscious addictions. First step is decreasing red meat consumption as it doesn’t have much benefit other than high protein content. The cons outweigh the pros for red meat though, especially when you consider your cholesterol. I personally prefer chicken, turkey, organic veggie burgers or organic quinoa burgers to fulfill my meat cravings.

Wheat & Rice –  Proteins in wheat and rice, often referred to as gliadorphin, produce addictive chemical reactions in our bodies. Ever polished off a bread bowl and couldn’t figure out why?

Sugar & Fat – A recent study with rats showed that Oreo cookies had a similar effect as cocaine and morphine. Pretty crazy right?

How does this translate to humans? Over a decade ago researchers studied what happened when you gave a three-month-old baby a sugary treat while staring in their eyes. When a group of people entered the room including the adult who fed the baby sugar-water, the baby scanned and focused only on the “sugar dealer,” demonstrating how early in life sugar addiction can be identified.

Sugar and fat may be the reason that chocolate is “food” that has been described to have addictive potential. Speaking of addictive foods, have you ever read about Doritos and how they are engineered to be that way?

So what can you do? 

  • Avoid temptation by not having so many addictive foods at home or in the office.
  • Replace them with foods that stabilize blood sugar such as beans, nuts, seeds, whole fruits and whole grains.
  • Start the day with a healthy breakfast (foods low in dairy, meat, wheat, rice, sugar and fat).
  • Tell friends and family to not bring “crack” like foods over. One of my favorite quotes from Hungry For Change is that, “We aren’t eating food anymore, we’re eating food like products.”
  • Focus on getting endorphins. A beautiful landscape, intimate moments, music, playing with a puppy, playing sports, laughter and exercise are some of the feel good things that we seek out for natural highs. Science has shown that we produce narcotic-like chemicals (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytosin) in our brains and bodies at moments like these. Seek out those types of activities for natural chemical reactions and natural highs. Your body will thank you.


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